Freedom On The Net Report Released

New report has showed that the Internet freedom has declined in the India. According to the “Freedom on the Net 2016” report by Freedom House, a US-based think tank, both government and non-governmental entities made efforts to bridge the digital divide in India.

After effective digital campaigning, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) introduced strong net neutrality protections in 2016, prohibiting differential pricing by service providers for different content or applications.

However, other developments undermined internet freedom. Local authorities ordered service providers to temporarily shut down internet access in at least 23 reported incidents in various states.

In 2016, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition challenging the use of broad powers provided to state governments under the criminal procedure code to shut down internet services.

The Supreme Court also upheld laws criminalising defamation which apply to both online and offline speech.

Arrests for online activities declined in mid-2015. But arrests increased again during the coverage period of this report (June 2015-May 2016) under other sections of the IT Act and provisions of the penal code. At least 17 people were detained for content circulated on WhatsApp, including group administrators who were not responsible for the content.

Overall, internet freedom around the world declined in 2016 for the sixth consecutive year. Two-thirds of all internet users — 67 percent — live in countries where criticism of the government, military or ruling family are subject to censorship.

In June 2015, journalist Joginder Singh died in Uttar Pradesh when assailants set him on fire after he posted allegations about a local official’s wrongdoing on Facebook.

Internet penetration in India continued to increase in 2016 with mobile penetration playing a significant role.

According to the report, social media users face unprecedented penalties, as authorities in 38 countries made arrests based on social media posts over the past year.

Globally, 27 percent of all internet users live in countries where people have been arrested for publishing, sharing, or merely “liking” content on Facebook. Governments are increasingly going after messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram, which can spread information quickly and securely,” the report stated.